by Paul McEntegart
What a lot of people don’t consider when they come to see a show at the Montgomery Theater is what goes on behind the scenes or back stage during the show. So let me take you through a typical night at the Montgomery Theater. First of all, let’s assume nothing goes wrong. I won’t forget to set any props, and there won’t be any wardrobe malfunctions. It’s a Friday evening. I arrive at the theater at 7:00--an hour before curtain. Now it’s time to make the coffee. When it’s done brewing, I pour it into a large percolator that is placed stage right on top of what appears to be a heater. Next to that, I place eight cups. A stack of four, a stack of two and a single cup by itself for Joe. Typically, I would have already set the trash on the desks, taped Charlie’s paper to the blackboard, and wrote “Welcome Parents” on it, reset Mary’s desk, and reset the crayons and field trip activity papers after the last show. It is during this time that I make sure that I haven’t forgotten anything. I check to make sure that two catechisms are placed upstage in the first stage left desk, as well as the first center stage desk, a bag of pistachios is placed backstage left, Mary’s note for her students is placed in the right pocket of her jacket located back stage center, and Mother Regina’s green folder is placed backstage right. The flowers and violin are always located backstage right, because after each show, one of the first things I do is retrieve them from the desks that they end up on. Before I am done, I set a coconut glazed donut into a donut box located on a stage right desk. Something a lot of people don’t realize is that everything is set exactly the same every night, even the trash on the desks. On one of our dress rehearsals, I took pictures of the trash on my phone, in order to make sure that every cup and napkin is placed in the exact same position it was the night before. Now I make my way up to the dressing rooms. I wipe off the chalk marks on Joe’s jacket, blazer and pants, so as to create the illusion that Joe has never had any contact with the blackboard located in Mary’s classroom. During the show it is my job to strike the donut box, cups, napkins, plates and coffee percolator after the first scene. I signal Father Stanley to enter during scene two, just before Mary and Joe kiss (they don’t kiss). I strike Father Stanley’s janitor jacket, mop, and erase the blackboard during intermission. I signal Mother Regina to enter in scene one of act two, and place (spoiler alert!) Mary’s suit cases center stage just after the first scene in act two. That’s it. Honestly, anyone could do this. It’s probably one of the easiest jobs I ever had, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I feel like I have a family at the Montgomery Theater, and although the stage has transformed from a kitchen, to a trailer park and now to a classroom in the time that I’ve worked there, it will always be my home.